Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
It’s hard to believe that the holidays are right around the corner. It seems that we may finally start seeing a reprieve from this scorching summer heat. I have picked a spectacular array of wines to quench your thirst and help your palate transition into the cooler weather and up coming holiday months. This has been a year of Burgundy for me. I have made it mission to open up everyone’s minds to the beauty and elegance of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from this iconic region. It is actually a great time to be drinking French wine in general as the vintages we have on the shelf whether it be Bordeaux, Burgundy or Languedoc have been some of the best in recent history. Enjoy!
Holdredge ‘Old School’ Pinot Noir 2008
Russian River Valley, California
Cash Price $34.99
The 2008 vintage was my favorite of the decade. It was a low yielding crop, but the fruit that was harvested was something to behold. John Holdredge only produces about 3,000 cases and the ensuing wines are truly classic. He makes his wines Burgundian in style with elegance and balance. Flavors of bing cherry and crushed, ripe raspberry sing into the palate with a plethora of acids that race seamlessly through the core of the wine. The mid palate offers quaffs of cola and freshly picked rose petals. The finish gives soft, round tannins that are surrounded by hints of vanilla and hazelnut with a lush, balanced ending. This is a stunning Pinot that is drinking perfectly right now!
Bernard Moreau Chardonnay 2012
Cash Price $26.99
Moreau is one of my absolute favorite producers in all of Burgundy! He emphasizes terroir in his wines and low yield, high quality grapes. Located in the famed Chardonnay region of Chassagne-Montrachet, this wine exudes brilliance from start to finish. Fresh flavors of ripe green apple and melon softly lay into nutmeg and brioche. The wine has excellent acidity, yet not over powering with an expressive terroir of wet rocks and limestone. The finish offers hints of lime and citrus with a roundness of toasted oak and vanilla bean. Spectacular Chardonnay!
Fumanelli ‘Squarano’ Red Blend 2006
Cash Price $29.99
Squarano is a classic baby Amarone style. The wine has the same basic blend of grapes as an Amarone and goes through some of the same process to give it the true richness of the style. It stays in French oak barrels for 15 months with another 6 in the bottle before release. The wine offers thick, brawny notes of roasted plum and baked Moreno cherries. Notes of cinnamon and spice lace easily through the core with medium tannins and easy acids. The finish is long and balanced with notes of fig, leather, and tar that sit on the palate for a deliciously long time. Pair Squarano with a big, thick steak with brown gravy and Portobello mushrooms. This wine is drinking perfectly right now!
Cult Cabernet Sauvignon N/V
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $26.59
I am always on the search for a Cabernet that over delivers in the $20 price range. This non vintage gem is right up that alley. It is a small production winery that blends all of its vintages for consistency much like the Champagne region in France. Abundant flavors of black currant, black berry and raspberry flow silkily through the palate with velvet tannins and eloquent acids. The mid palate offers hints of spice with tinges of wild berry and black cherry mingled with milk chocolate. The finish is long with smidgeons of mocha, hazelnut and toasted cedar. Wine Enthusiast gave this wine 90 points. A Killer Cab for the price!
Riglos ‘Quinto’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Cash Price $19.99 BUT WITH A $5.00 SPEC’S KEY
ONLY $14.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME
Quinto is a 100% Sauvignon Blanc and is a perfect way to beat the final dog days of summer. The grapes are grown at 3,750 feet about sea level in the region of Tupungato inside of Mendoza. Riglos works hard to offer a wine that shows the terroir of Mendoza while displaying supple fruits. This un-oaked Sauvignon Blanc is deliciously refreshing from first sup. Flavors of citrus lemon, gooseberry and grass sing into zesty acids with touches of minerality throughout the core. Hints of white flowers and pear are an under current with a clean, lip smacking finish. Paul Hobbs has his handprint on this winery, so you know that the wines are going to be stellar!
Chateau Laplagnotte Bellevue Red Blend 2010
St. Emilion Grand Cru, France
Cash Price $25.99
This estate is producing some of the best priced Merlot based wines in all of St. Emilion. The wine is a 70% Merlot/30% Cabernet Franc blend from one of the best vintages that Bordeaux has ever seen. Claude Labarre of Cheval Blanc fame purchased this vineyard in 1990 and now her son, Arnaud, produces passionate wines with excellent expression. Flavors of rich red cherries and red currant play into silk, yet firm tannins. Notes of leather and graphite encompass the mid palate with hints of creamy vanilla. The finish offers quaffs of toasted oak with touches of spice and dark chocolate. This is a ‘WOW’ Bordeaux!
Nguni Chenin Blanc 2012
Coastal Region, South Africa
Cash Price $17.99 BUT WITH A $5.00 SPEC’S KEY
ONLY $12.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME
I have been an avid fan of Chenin Blanc aka Steen since I visited South Africa several years ago. I was astounded at the quality of Dry Chenin Blanc that was produced throughout the region. Chenin Blanc is one of the more versatile white grapes in the entire world and South Africa is at the forefront of producing complex, tasty wines. Nguni offers medium plus acids and shows crisp green apple, lime, and freshly cut grass. The wine is un-oaked and gives just a touch of guava and lemon curd throughout the mid palate. The finish is refreshingly dry and clean with just a whiff of meadow flowers. I loved this wine at $18, but it’s a steal for $13!
Chateau Pontac Phenix 2010
Haut Medoc, France
Cash Price $19.94
Phenix is the 2nd wine of Pontac Lynch and is located partly in Margaux and the Haut Medoc, not far from 1st Growth Chateau Margaux. It is hard to find a wine in the 2010 vintage that isn’t amazing quality, but this one is a true diamond for under $20. Flavors of red cherry and kirsch lay on a medley of sweet spices and medium tannins. This wine is deliciously ripe and ready to drink. The acids are tantalizing with dense notes of toasted oak and roasted coffee bean. The finish is persistent and well rounded. This is a Must Try Red!
Domaine De La Garenne Rose 2012
Vin de Pays, Franc
Cash Price $12.99
Rose season is still in full swing with this muggy hot weather. I have loved this wine in every vintage that I have tried and is, not surprisingly, produced by one of the premier producers in Bandol. It is a Cinsault, Carignan, Grenache blend that is fruity and friendly from the start. Flavors of strawberry and bing cherry sinew through medium acids and just a touch of tannin. Hints of wild berries and perfumed roses waft hauntingly through the fleshy core. A slight chill is perfect for this wine. Drink Pink!
Rupert ‘Protea’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Coastal Region, South Africa
Cash Price $14.99
Protea is the 2nd label of the famed Anthonij Rupert winery that is putting South Africa back on the map in the wine world. This winery has become the darling of critics and sommeliers alike. Protea is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in French oak for 12 months. Flavors of Cassis and black currant mingle throughout medium tannins and acids. Notes of licorice, tobacco, and cocoa are prevalent on the mid palate with tinges of black cherry. The finish is full and long with silky, yet structured fruits and just a smidgeon of oak. South Africa is producing awesome wine!
Pietra Santa Pinot Gris 2012
Cienega Valley, California
Cash Price $13.99
Pietra Santa is 25 miles from the Monterey Bay and benefits from the cool coastal breezes that allow for a long growing season. Their Pinot Gris is grown on the highest elevation vineyards on the estate. Pietra Santa is Italian for ‘Sacred Stone’ in honor of the rich terrain and terroir on which the winery is located. Italian Wine Maker Alessio Carli has produced a pure and focused wine with this offering. Flavors of mangos and nectarine are up front on the palate with an under current of citrus fruits. Candied peaches play through soft acids and hints of stony minerality. The finish is delightfully fresh with hints of papaya and stone fruits. Delicious!
Vassal de Mercues Malbec 2011
Cash Price $11.99
Vassal is the 2nd label of Chateau de Mercues and is owned by highly touted producer Georges Vigouroux in the birth place of Malbec, which is Cahors, France. This wine is meant to be drunk early and often! Flavors of dense plum and currant seep through the palate with medium tannins and acids. The mid palate is well structured and offers notes of red cherry and hints of cranberry. The finish is filled with spices of black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom. I think this wine has more character than most of the Argentinian offerings. Fall in love with French Malbec!
Lockwood Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Cash Price $10.99
Lockwood has been a staple in the Spec’s portfolio for many years, however it was purchased by the Boisset family a couple of years ago and they have changed the flavor profile of the wines a bit. The wines are still all estate grown on calcareous soil and spends time in French oak. Flavors of cherry and cassis flow into hints of chocolate and tobacco. Framboise is prevalenton the mid palate with soft, lush tannins and accessible acids. The finish give hints of oak and cocoa. Tasty daily Red!
James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator